I first set foot in Sly’s when I joined some friends on a quest of good cocktails, and not only did we find them, but we also stayed for the food.
Sly’s pedigree includes Lucky’s for upper-end steak and seafood, but that should not turn off an average diner with an average sized pocketbook from exploring what’s there…as long as you are fine with trekking over to Carpinteria.
The back room does have a feel of a finer dining experience, with its linen cloths, quiet atmosphere and patient yet attentive wait staff. But the front bar and bistro area is casual and comfortable. I really enjoyed sitting at the bar, even for eating.
And I mentioned that my first reason for coming here was for the cocktails. Sly’s cocktails are among my favorite in this area, especially for the classics, like a Manhattan, Gimlet, Negroni, gin and tonic?or Moscow Mule. The Manhattans are made with real Marasca cherries; they make their own tonic water for the G&Ts, and the Moscow Mule comes in its traditional copper mug. And the prices are good for this level of quality. The Moscow Mule I had on this night was $7. Ted got a shot of the exquisite Maker’s 46.
The real special I want to focus on, though, are their prix fixe dinners. The menu changes about every three weeks to a region of France, and I recently got a chance to sample it.
For my meal, the prix fixe was based on the regional cuisine of the Brittany coast, known for savory buckwheat crepes, cream, and salted butter.
The price for each is $35, for a starter, a main, and a dessert. For wine pairings, the price is $55. I had the meal only. I was in a group that enjoys trying as much as possible, so we managed to order almost everything off the menu.
* Bisque of cepes (mushrooms)
* Moules frites – mussels and french fries
* Special gateau Breton
I had the cassoulette, which came in a cream and white wine sauce, and drizzled with lobster sauce. A good-sized portion, and the sauce was great for dipping with their fresh baked crusty bread.
My rack of lamb was prepared medium rare, and the diner specifies its doneness. It comes with a little wood toothpick labeled with the correct doneness. They’ll prepare it, or steak, well done if you desire, and not give you grief on that choice. But if you ask for their recommendation, the suggestion is medium, to medium rare. The dish came with the white beans, as listed. They were tender cooked flageolets. Also, fresh crisp-tender green beans with a light cream sauce.
I selected the special Breton cake for dessert, as I’d never heard of it before and didn’t expect to see anything like it elsewhere around town. The dough is rolled and folded, in a style similar to puff pastry, and layered in between with sugar and butter. If you can imagine a cake made mostly of butter and sugar, held successfully together by a little flour and egg, this is it. Baked as a pancake, the bottom was quite dense and needed a knife at times to cut it into bite size pieces and tastes sweet, slightly salty with a buttery chewy texture.
The salt in the caramel had one friend enjoying her crepes, saying it was very flavorful and not cloyingly sweet. And the bittersweet chocolate mousse was so rich and dense that it went a long way, even shared between several people.
The Brittany menu is wrapping up soon, and may have already completed. That is okay, because the next prix fixe is going to specialize in the cuisine of Provence!
I apologize for ordering the last of the profiteroles that evening.
The waiter played a joke of me when he went back into the kitchen to see if any were left. He returned with a disappointed look on his face, making me THINK they were all gone that evening. But there was one order left! And I got it.
I heard a table of men trying to order it. They did not succeed.
Two choux pastries split and filled with vanilla ice cream. Then drizzled with chocolate sauce and served in a bowl of whipped cream.
I apologize for getting the last profiteroles. But I am not sorry.
We also ordered a decaf espresso. And the Lemon Squeeze, a sweet crepe with sugar and lemon juice. Mmm.
I ate here with Sandrine on a late weeknight evening. Even though they were closing up for the night they still seated and served us, which was very nice of them. It was pleasantly quiet inside, we sat at a comfortable table.
The interior is cozy and kitschy, lined with bric-a-brac and tablecloths that looked like the kind your friends bring you back from southern France as vacation gifts. Or at least they bring them back for *me* since I have one on my table.
The savory menu is laden with many crepe offerings, plus salads and sandwiches. We shared the Mont Blanc crepe that was stuffed with prosciutto, delicately grilled potatoes and onion, and melting rochebaron cheese. My first bite of the crepe edge was lacey, crisp and melted in my mouth and the crepe itself was the best I’ve ever had. I’m no expert in the matter, but it appears the crepes are made in the Brittany style and uses some buckwheat flour, so they have a simple and rustic taste to them. It’s delicious.
The sweet menu was also extensive and even offered one of my addictive indulgences – profiteroles. But we settled on a crepe with caramel sauce and bananas. It was so good and warm we actually ate it before the savory crepe. Next time I will try the simple lemon and sugar crepe and hopefully also the profiteroles. Many of the sweet crepes cost about $4, which was very reasonable.
Update: 6 December 2007. Went here again late in the evening. The French waitress was super nice to me and other patrons in the restaurant. My companion had the Ile de Jersey savory crepe and it was quite the meal. I finally had the profiteroles and it was quite the dessert. Two choux pastries filled with ice cream, topped with chocolate sauce and set in a bowl of whipped cream, only $4.